Convener: Rachel Gibson
Participants: Rachel Gibson, Mark Mulqueen, Tony Haynes
Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
• Let’s use the outdoor spaces of the Olympic Park as a national centre for site-specific, outdoor, street arts – rather than aspire to a great big building
• Its people that make exciting things happen – not bricks and mortar.
• Invest in the artists
• Have lessons from the lottery re ambitious capital projects been learnt?
Summary of discussion:
• Anything on the 2012 site that can be handed over for artistic use is a good thing – but you can’t sustain a legacy without resourcing what is going on already.
• Should the arts be used to fill empty spaces? The arts are good at colonizing spaces - but through an organic rather than a forced process. Artists will find the spaces that are appropriate to them.
• The creation centre idea sounds like an Arts Council wheeze for getting rid of money without having to give it to artists – not to be encouraged!
• The open space discussion is really about how to make best use of the Media Centre, Three Mills building etc. once they are available after the Olympics. If the motivation is pragmatic let’s be honest about it rather than trying to invent a strategic argument. Offering these spaces to existing organizations would be more cost effective and appropriate than trying to set up something new.
• Trying to replicate a continental model here won’t work. The infrastructure and regional support networks are entirely different. Also geography means that it is financially viable to tour a large scale spectacular work after creation in a way that wouldn’t be possible in England.
• Artistic neutrality might be desirable for a creation space in terms of openness, but doesn’t always work. In Stockton it was necessary to bring in an artistic director for the space to operate effectively.
• How old-hat might a creation centre seem post 2012? If we are still in recession London might be awash with empty retail and commercial buildings which might provide more flexible/affordable/desirable spaces for artists than a creation centre.
• Have lessons from the Lottery re major capital developments really been learnt? Capital builds always cost more than expected and the most problematic ones have been those where stakeholders/funders have tried to set up something new (as would be the case with a creation centre) rather than those which enhanced the renewed or enhanced the facilities of an existing cultural organization.
• What East London lacks most is large-scale performance spaces.
• The more interesting question than the one posed in this Open Space event is “how can we grab the Olympic park for exciting creative and cultural use?” It would be more exciting (and cost effective) to grab the outdoor spaces and create a national centre for outdoor/street/site specific work – and invest in the artists and companies that make the work. This would also stimulate a more creative relationship with local communities and park users through as audiences and participants.